Limerick Nurse Wins Stone Award for Contribution to Dermatology Nursing

A Limerick nurse has been named this year’s winner of the Stone Award, an accolade regarded as the highest achievement in dermatology nursing.

Sheila Ryan, Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) in dermatology, UL Hospitals Group, was presented with the award at the annual conference of the British Dermatology Nursing Group (BDNG) in Belfast. It is the first time the award has gone to a nurse in the Republic of Ireland.

The Stone Award is named after the founder of the BDNG and first recipient of the award, Lynette Stone. It is awarded annually to an individual who has made a consistently great contribution in the field of dermatology nursing.

Sheila is from Ahane, County Limerick, and has 25 years of experience in dermatology nursing in Ireland and the UK. She is a member of the board of the Irish Skin Foundation and has acted as dermatology nurse advisor to the National Clinical and National Skin Cancer Control Programmes. She has published articles on psoriasis, acne, emollients, cryotherapy and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Two years ago, Sheila became the joint first Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) to start working in her field in Ireland. ANPs are the highest level of clinical experts in the nursing profession in Ireland today.

Sheila was nominated for the Stone Award by current and former colleagues at UL Hospitals, St Vincent’s University Hospital and in the UK.

‘This is very special for me because my very first boss in dermatology in St Thomas’ in London was, Lynn Stone, the founder of this award, and so many people who have been awarded it over the years were people I looked up to and admired. To be in that group is really special,” said Sheila.

“It’s nice to see it has come full circle for me but this is very much a team recognition also. There would have been no award without our consultant Dr Bart Ramsay and without my nursing colleagues Eilish Ryan and Aisling O’Shaughnessy.”

Dr Bart Ramsay, Consultant Dermatologist, UL Hospitals Group, said the award was richly deserved recognition of Sheila’s work with patients.

“Sheila is incredibly dedicated to the care of dermatology patients particularly those with severely failing skin conditions,” said Dr Ramsay.

“She initially trained in the nursing school here in Limerick and immediately went and trained in the premier Dermatology unit in London, St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, and then in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital followed by St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. She came back in 2013 and has been a key figure in the development of the new Charles Centre for Dermatology in UHL which opened officially in May 2017. 

“Sheila is very good at the assessment of someone with skin failure and getting a treatment plan working even if it means her going into the community to liaise and help services deliver the appropriate care plan for the patient. The sicker the patient, the more she rolls up her sleeves and gets stuck in. As she works she encourages nurses in our team to develop further their knowledge and skills. She has innovated in delivering phototherapy services to Nenagh Hospital which has been very successful and appreciated by all the patients who attend there. She has expanded the awareness of skin cancer through community initiatives at the National Ploughing Championship, sun awareness days and media sources like television and online dermatology sessions. She is involved nationally and internationally and developing dermatology nursing to reach higher standards.

“Sheila is the first nurse in the Republic of Ireland to receive this award but those of us working closely with her are not surprised. She is a truly outstanding dermatology nurse.  It is wonderful that she decided to come back to her beginnings in the Mid West armed with an abundance of knowledge and skills to help develop better services for the patient with failing skin,” Dr Ramsay said.